The cities of Hamburg (Ashley County), Hazen (Prairie County) and Earle (Crittenden County) recently received Arkansas Rural Connect grants of $2 million, $1.9 million and $1.8 million, respectively, for broadband deployment projects.
Hamburg has partnered with CableSouth Media 3 and plans to deploy fiber to homes.
Hazen is working with Aristotle Unified Communications to deploy fixed wireless.
Earle has partnered with Comcast, which will upgrade its existing network there, bringing high-speed internet and the full suite of Comcast’ Xfinity-branded services to about 1,575 underserved homes and businesses in the region. That project will start in mid-2021.
Businesses in Earle will also have access to a full suite of Comcast Business-branded internet, voice and video services, according to a news release.
In addition, the expansion will provide families there with access to Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month, digital literacy training and discounted computers.
Several other ARC grants have been announced since the Arkansas Department of Commerce received $19.3 million in federal CARES Act money to fund the grant program. The spending was approved by Arkansas’ CARES Act Steering Committee and the state Legislature. Grant recipients like Hamburg and Hazen must spend that money by Dec. 30.
Another $4.7 million is available in state funds the Earle-Comcast project and other projects like it, projects that would extend beyond Dec. 30.
The department is continuing to evaluate applications for more grants. For more information or to apply, visit broadband.arkansas.gov.